Mexican Chocolate Pots de Crème (Dairy-Free!)

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When it comes to chocolate pots de crème, there’s no messing around. These dense little cups of smooth, dark chocolate don’t pretend to be delicate or airy, and you’ll never mistake them for bland-tasting instant pudding or low-fat chocolate mousse. With just one bite, you’ll taste the message loud and clear: These bittersweet pots de crème are intensely chocolatey, decadently full-fat, and proud of it.

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I rarely indulge in sweets these days, but dark chocolate is my kryptonite — so when occasion calls for it, I’ll happily whip up a batch of dairy-free chocolate pots de crème. And my favorite ways to amp up the intensity of this special treat is with a touch of cinnamon, vanilla, and ancho chile powder — a flavor combination inspired by the rich, spicy kick of traditional Mexican hot chocolate.

This recipe is foolproof, provided you don’t rush things. Yes, I know it’s virtually impossible to exercise self-restraint when it comes to chocolate, but to ensure a silky-smooth ganache, staple these three tips to your forehead:

  • Be patient when forming the base custard,
  • Step away from the chocolate for a full five minutes while it’s melting, and
  • Stir slooowly and deliberately when combining the melted chocolate and custard.

Trust me: you’ll be rewarded for your stoic Jedi ways.

Ready to learn how to make these little pots o’ joy?

Here’s what you’ll need to make eight 2-ounce servings:

For the pots de crème: 

  • 7 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher), finely chopped
  • 14 ounce can full-fat coconut milk (I used 365 Everyday Value Coconut Milk from Whole Foods)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder (depending on how much heat you prefer)
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the whipped topping:

  • 14 ounce can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the refrigerator
  • Coconut sugar, to taste (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.

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In a medium saucepan, add a can of coconut milk…

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… a couple of egg yolks…

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…ancho chile powder…

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…and kosher salt.

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Whisk until thoroughly combined, and then drop in the cinnamon stick.

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Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly…

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…until it thickens and forms a smooth custard that coats the back of a spoon (about 10 to 15 minutes).

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Watch the custard like a hawk — you don’t want to overcook it. Remember: Steaming is good, but simmering and boiling are bad. And when in doubt, use an instant-read thermometer to make sure the final temperature is about 175°F (80°C).

When the custard is ready, take the pot off the heat, and fish out the cinnamon stick. Position a fine mesh sieve over the bowl of chocolate, and pour the custard through to catch any lumpy bits.

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Let the chocolate and custard mixture sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. 

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Seriously: set a timer and walk away. Staring at the chocolatey goodness is just going to drive you bonkers.

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When your timer goes off, grab a spatula and stir ever so gently to mix the melted chocolate into the custard base. If you stir like crazy, the temperature will drop too quickly, and you’ll end up with grainy chocolate. (Mexican chocolate is traditionally coarse-ground and can be crumbly in texture, but I prefer my pots de crème to be sinfully smooth.)

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Steady, slow stirring is essential for ensuring a stable emulsion. Once you’ve achieved a smooth mixture, stir in the vanilla extract.

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Divide the mixture evenly into eight 2-ounce espresso cups or ramekins

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…and cool to room temperature. Cover the cups with plastic wrap and let ‘em chill and firm up in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

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When you’re ready to serve, remove the pots de crème from the fridge…

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…along with the chilled can of coconut milk.

Remove the lid…

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…and carefully spoon out the thick layer of solidified coconut cream on the top.

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Toss the cream into a chilled bowl (and coconut sugar if you’re using it)…

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…and whip it. In the sage words of Devo, whip it real good.

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Spoon a dollop of the whipped coconut cream onto each cup — or if you’re feeling fancy, use a pastry bag to pipe the cream on top.

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Dust with a shower of cinnamon…

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…grab a spoon, and dig in.

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This rich chocolate indulgence may be dairy-free, but with its subtle heat and deep vanilla-and-cinnamon tones, you’ll be too busy licking your lips to notice. It’s a good thing these Mexican chocolate pots de crème are served in such tiny cups; otherwise, I’m pretty sure I’d polish off the entire batch in one sitting.

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p.s. If you want to see me cooking these treats with Chef Michael Mina, click on this link.


Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel, December 2013).